The SCA has set aside President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2018 recognition of Zanozuko Tyelovuyo Sigcau as the rightful successor to the throne of amaMpondo aseQaukeni.

A Daily Dispatch report says the ruling potentially throws the succession into disarray, which is already the subject of litigation after Zanozuko’s death earlier this year.

Yesterday, the SCA decided the 2010 ruling by the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes & Claims that Zanozuko was the rightful successor to the throne was flawed.

This meant the President’s subsequent recognition of him was also flawed.

The SCA found that amaMpondo customary law ‘incorporated indigenous political processes where the public or community participated in choosing between eligible candidates, based on both the strength of their familial claim and their ability to lead’.

Acting Judge Mandela Makaula – with SCA President Mandisa Maya and SCA Judges Nambitha Dambuza, Tati Makgoka and Trevor Gorven concurring – upheld an appeal by Wezizwe Sigcau and her mother, Lombekiso Sigcau.

They had challenged the refusal by the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) to set aside the commission and the President’s recognition of Zanozuko as amaMpondo king.

It was argued in court that the commission had erred in not applying relevant customary law, which included that the incumbent was a ‘fit and proper’ person and that the preference of the community be taken into consideration.

The commission had instead centred its inquiry on genealogy and ruled that no regard should be had to the question of public participation in the process.

According to the Daily Dispatch report, Makaula said it was common cause between the parties that amaMpondo customary law on traditional leadership was malleable and not premised on inflexible genealogical rules.

He said the commission had misunderstood its function in confining itself to the evidence led on behalf of the disputants to the throne. He said it was incumbent on the commission to call more members of the royal family, an imbizo, or experts, or all of them, so as to widen the base from which the salient principles of the living customary law of amaMpondo on traditional leadership could be determined.

‘The commission failed to consider that the customs and practices of amaMpondo at various times adapted to change in order to promote equality, non-sexism, and respect for communality and public participation in structures of governance, consistent with the principle that leadership derives its mandate from the people.’

Full Daily Dispatch report